Denton's Dish: Magic at Pacers Game 1 (4/28/12)
By John Denton
April 28, 2012
INDIANAPOLIS – Just seconds after the Orlando Magic stared down a seven-point deficit without blinking, got two 3-pointers for the ages from ageless guard Jason Richardson and held on for stirring Game 1 victory, veteran forward Quentin Richardson huddled the team for one more rallying cry.
``We All We Got,’’ they screamed above the hush that had fallen over Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
An undermanned Magic team forced to play without superstar center Dwight Howard came into the playoffs Saturday as prohibitive underdogs, but left Saturday night as 81-77 winners against Indiana after scoring the game’s final 11 points. Two 3-pointers by Richardson – the first one on a play specifically drawn up by head coach Stan Van Gundy and a second one in the flow of the offense – propelled sixth-seeded Orlando to a somewhat stunning 1-0 lead in the series against the No. 3 Pacers.
``Nobody is giving us a chance or expecting us to do anything in this series. All we have is that saying, `We All We Got,’’’ said Richardson, who had 17 points and five 3-pointers, none bigger than the two in the final 2:40 of the game. ``We’ve had guys go down with injuries and a lot of adversity this season, so that’s why we keep on saying, `We All We Got.’ Everybody says it and it’s working for us.’’
What also worked for the Magic was 17 points and nine assists from captain Jameer Nelson and 16 points and 13 rebounds in 41 minutes from Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis, who played on a sprained ankle. The Magic shot just 39.5 percent from the floor, but they held the Pacers – the NBA’s hottest team over the last month – to 34.5 percent shooting and 77 points.
Van Gundy joked before the game that while most national NBA analysts were predicting the Magic would be swept a few were actually giving Orlando a chance of getting to a Game 5 with one win. Several Magic players said afterward that the team is feeding off the perception that they are massive underdogs in this series.
``Any team that goes on the road and wins in another team’s house in the first game, that’s absolutely huge. We just went out and did what we had to do to win,’’ said Davis, who had his sore ankle dunked in icewater. ``We feed off (the doubt), but try not to pay attention to it. We believe in what we do and believe in our system. That’s really all that matters to us. `We All We Got,’ is what we believe in. If you want to go far, you can’t go alone. We’ve got to go together.’’
The Magic got some help down the stretch from Indiana’s best player, Danny Granger, in pulling off the victory. Granger missed two free throws with 1:14 to play, missed a layup with 44 seconds to play and was called for travelling with 7.5 seconds remaining.
``I can’t remember the last time that I missed two free throws. And then the travel call, it was a bad series (of events). The good thing is that it’s a seven-game series. It’s just the first game and we’ll get over this pretty quickly.’’
Van Gundy has been impressed for weeks with the spirit and grit that his Magic have played with since losing Howard to a season-ending back injury. Van Gundy was asked recently how the Magic could possibly combat Indiana’s size advantage in the series and he said, ``How do we deal with it? … Well, we just deal with it.’’ Then, late Saturday he gushed about how his Magic dealt with everything thrown at them.
``Even in games lately where we haven’t played well, I think our guys never quit fighting. Our goal tonight was to hang in there and not quit fighting and that’s what happened,’’ Van Gundy said.
Here is a look back at the key moments from Saturday’s Game 1 from Bankers Life Fieldhouse:
- Undoubtedly, the two biggest shots of the night came on 3-pointers by Richardson. Trailing 77-72, Orlando called a timeout with 2:56 to play and Van Gundy designed a play referred to as ``the closing door.’’ Davis and Ryan Anderson stood apart at the free throw line, allowing Richardson to run up the middle of the floor. The two forwards then shut off the lane with solid screens, allowing Richardson time to get off his first 3-pointer.
When Richardson’s 3-pointer found nothing but net and pulled the Magic within 77-75, Van Gundy slapped a high five with J.J. Redick along the bench.
``Coach drew that play up and I hadn’t touched the ball going into the fourth quarter, but I told myself I had to hit that shot,’’ said Richardson, who made six of 15 shots and five of eight 3-pointers. ``The shot was good, but the screens were better. Glen and Ryan didn’t let the defense get through at all and it gave me all of the time that I needed.’’
The second 3-pointer came from the right wing after Richardson rubbed off another Davis pin-down screen. Richardson said hitting the previous 3-pointer gave him all of the confidence he needed to bury the shot that gave Orlando the lead for good.
``Never will I back down from that shot,’’ Richardson said bodly. ``I’m the type of guy who can live with myself if I miss that shot, but I want to make it.’’
- Davis so violently sprained his ankle on Wednesday that there was still swelling and stiffness in his ankle before Saturday’s game. But he said his availability to start at center for the Magic was never a question because we was determined to be there for his team.
Was he ever? He made six of 20 shots, grabbed six of his 13 rebounds off the offensive glass and played 41 minutes on the bad ankle.
``I’ve got to play because it’s the playoffs,’’ he said. ``I’m not 100 percent, nowhere near it. But at the same time we needed the win and needed as many of bodies as we could get. As long as I can function on it, I’ll be alright.’’
Davis said the Magic were able to overcome a deficit where they trailed 77-70 with 4:05 to play by sticking together.
``We’re not trying to impress the doubters or make them believe in us; we believe in ourselves,’’ Davis said. ``We’ve been through a lot this year, both mentally and physically. And we’ve been able to overcome it.’’
- Magic reserve forward Earl Clark showed plenty of flashes of greatness during the season and Orlando knows that it is going to have to count heavily on him during the playoffs because of his ability to guard small forwards and power forwards.
Clark impacted the game almost immediately upon entering the action on Saturday, swatting four shots in his first three minutes on the court. Remarkably, Clark averaged more blocks per minute this season than Howard, Orlando’s three-time Defensive Player of the Year.
He finished with six points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots.
``We’ve definitely been hearing what people out there have been saying about a sweep and stuff, but the guys in our locker room play for each other,’’ Clark said.
- The biggest difference between the two rosters is Indiana’s size, especially with center Roy Hibbert. The 7-foot-3 Hibbert blocked a career-best nine shots, his most ever in a regular season or playoff game. Hibbert finished two points and one blocked shot shy of a triple double after also grabbing 13 rebounds.
The Pacers’ 11 blocked shots were one shy of their NBA record for a playoff game. Indiana blocked 12 against Detroit in the 2004 NBA playoffs.
``Roy had his best game as a pro defensively,’’ Indiana coach Frank Vogel said. ``He was extremely effective.’’
- Davis set the tone early in the game when he delivered the first hard foul of the series. Rotating over to help on a drive to the hoop, the 290-pound Davis splattered 180-pound Indiana guard George Hill. The blow knocked Hill to the floor and into a row of cameramen. Indiana argued for a flagrant foul on the play to no avail.
- Hedo Turkoglu made just three of 10 shots, but it was his start to the game that helped the Magic withstand the early emotional punch from the Pacers. Turkoglu scored seven of the Magic’s first nine points, allowing Orlando to stay within 17-7 early on as the crowd was roaring.
Turkoglu admitted that the hard plastic protective mask that he was wearing bothered him immensely in the game, but he had no intention of sitting out the game. He called the win an especially satisfying one because of all the contributions the Magic got from several players.
``Whoever came into the game played their role and really helped us out,’’ Turkoglu said. ``Wehen we get that help from the bench it just gives us such a spark. We have confidence in ourselves. As a group, we believe in each other.’’
- Davis said the mission now is for the Magic to get greedy and not be content with simply winning a game in Indiana. Dating back three seasons, Orlando has actually won its last seven games in Indianapolis. Now, Davis said the Magic have to go out and playing with an edge in Monday’s Game 2.
``The pressure is on them now to win Game 2,’’ Davis said. ``At worst, we’re going to leave here 1-1, right back where we started and heading to our place. It’s unbelievable to do what we did, but it’s just one game. We’ve got to go and do it again now.’’
John Denton writes for OrlandoMagic.com. John has covered the Magic since 1997 and recently authored ``All You Can Be’’ with Magic center Dwight Howard. E-mail John at firstname.lastname@example.org
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